Re: Eurogamer on Xbox3 and PS4 - What To Expect
Tessellation, as is being pointed out, is for geometry only. It helps to more precisely define a shape and make things look more defined and real. Again, it only helps do the shape of an object. Tessellation does not apply textures to an object, it does not do lighting or shadows, it does not do reflections, etc..
Geometry stuff, including tessellation, is fairly easily handled by today's systems. However, the other items are not. In particular, the textures and lighting/shadow are huge deal. Raytracing has been discussed a fair amount. It's well known it takes a tremendous amount of processing power to do. You want Avatar quality, you have to do Raytracing. Avatar quality also took some big time textures to make happen. I read somewhere each individual character in Avatar required multiple GigaBytes per character to make them look as good as they did. That's per character. A console will not have the memory amount necessary required to hold all the textures required in a typical video game to get Avatar quality graphics. Even if the capacity were there, the bandwidth is not in place to move all that data around for a real time video game.
Think of it this way: Avatar took several computers costing big money hooked up to a major network. It took hours to create a scene in the movie which was minutes in length. Due you think a single, $300+ toy will replace those computers? Eh, no. Yeah, technology marches on and what is available in a couple of years will be better than now. James Cameron has said there will be sequels to Avatar. Do you think James will ditch all the computers and be able to use one console to make the movie? I'm betting no.
Perhaps the next gen consoles will do Avatar quality graphics. I suspect there will be an astrick (*) next to the words "Avatar quality" forcing a reader to look at the footnotes to see what the catch is. Perhaps the consoles will be able to do Avatar geometry quality but the lighting and textures won't be there? We will see.